Wharton County, TX (December 4, 2019) – Local leaders and stakeholders in Wharton County are taking action to improve high-speed internet (broadband) connections for residents, businesses, and others across the county. The Wharton County Broadband Committee, in partnership with Connected Nation Texas (CN Texas), has launched work to develop a county-wide Technology Action Plan.
“Having reliable, affordable internet impacts everything from our kids to our local businesses,” said Marshall Francis, President, Wharton Economic Development. “Students need access just to complete their schoolwork. The internet connects senior citizens to doctors and their families, even when they can’t travel; it gives local businesses and agriculture access to a global market; and it can provide access to job opportunities, including work-at-home possibilities, for young adults and parents.”
The Wharton County Broadband Initiative was officially launched today, and the committee needs residents, businesses, and organizations to share input about their broadband access or lack thereof. To do so, head to https://www.myconnectedcommunity.org/wharton-county/ and select the appropriate option. There are nine options that range from residential to higher education to government.
“We need everyone’s input so that we have the best possible data to work with in developing a Technology Action Plan,” said Carolyn Gibson, Executive Director, El Campo City Development Corporation. “Developing this plan is a critical step to improving high-speed internet access for everyone in Wharton County. It means we can better identify areas of need as well as potential challenges and opportunities across the county. We can’t make a strong plan unless we include as many families, businesses, and other organizations as possible.”
Wharton County is the second county taking part in a statewide effort launched in mid-2019 and led by CN Texas to improve broadband access, adoption, and use. CN Texas is a local division of Connected Nation (CN), a national nonprofit that has worked directly with Texas communities since 2009.
“We are now working to identify 23 communities that want to develop Technology Action Plans through our Connected Community Engagement Program,” said Jennifer Harris, State Program Director. “Our staff works with local leaders, businesses, providers, and others to identify ways to connect everyone. Rains County was the first to take part in this latest effort and started its work on Nov. 5. We’re excited that Wharton County leaders also see the value and importance of developing this plan. Too much is at stake for our Texas communities to stand by and do nothing.”
According to data released in May by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 31.1 percent of rural Texans lack access to high-speed internet. That’s compared to just 2.6 percent in urban areas. Recognizing the need to expand access in the Lone Star State, the Texas Rural Funders Collaborative has funded CN Texas’ work for two-and-half-years—that includes funding for 23 Connected Community Engagements.
“We have worked in Texas for a long time in places like McCamey and Marfa, but we’ve not had a statewide focus for a few years, so I’m excited to see the forward momentum this can achieve,” said Tom Stephenson, Community Technology Advisor, CN Texas. “We always work locally and with those who have a personal stake in their community and want to take part in improving quality of life for all people.”
Connected Nation has helped more than 300 communities across the United States develop community-specific Technology Action Plans. To learn more about the Connected program, head to https://connectednation.org/connect-my-community/.
Jessica Denson, Communications Director
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About Connected Nation Texas: CN Texas is a local division of the national nonprofit Connected Nation. Our mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to and increase the adoption and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies for all people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.
Connected Nation works with consumers, local community leaders, states, technology providers, and foundations to develop and implement technology expansion programs with core competencies centered on a mission to improve digital inclusion for people and places previously underserved or overlooked. For more information, please visit: connectednation.org and follow Connected Nation on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Texas Rural Funders Collaborative: The mission of the Texas Rural Funders Collaborative (TRFC) is to partner with rural Texans to achieve their vision of prosperity and wellbeing. The group’s strategies recognize and are informed by rural expertise and assets. The TRFC leverages local, philanthropic, state and federal resources to collaborate on projects, support local capacity and leadership, share research, convene stakeholders and engage in advocacy. More information can be found on the TRFC webpage at: https://www.edtx.org/get-involved/texas-rural-funders-collaborative.
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